40 Questions — Here We Go

Some unnamed number of years ago, I was approaching my 20th high school reunion. I was shocked to realize how young I was — not even 40, yet nearing a milestone one step away from the assisted living facility. In my teenage and even 20-something mind, Twenty Whole Years after graduation I would be an empty nester approaching retirement, not a mid-30s mother of young children.

Needless to say, I was not a math major in college.

What I was really thinking—what I think many younger people think—is that 20 years out of childhood my life would have ossified into something final and sure. When you are 18 or 22, the path of your life is an open question. A question I had thought would be well and truly answered 20 years later.


It could just be me. I like questions more than answers—always have. But I think it’s also the nature of this time of life. Decisions that once seemed final—jobs, kids, spouses, houses—open up again. A body that once seemed pretty reliable starts to ask its own questions, and ask them (ouch!) more insistently. Things I swore I would never do or say seem surprisingly possible, and sometimes slip out before I know what happened. The path of my life is a question that seems more open than ever before.

One thing I’m not asking: “What do I want to be when I grow up?” I feel pretty sure I’m a grown-up, and I like my grown-up privileges, the ability to ask more, and harder, and smarter questions chief among them. (Sex and booze are good too.)

So that’s what I want this next stretch of years to be about: asking good questions, being curious, experimenting, keeping lots of doors open but not being too circumspect or contemplative to run through some of them. Like right now — here we go!

About mina

Like a rock: sometimes hard, sometimes crumbly, occasionally brilliant, sometimes dense.

Posted on June 2, 2011, in questions. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. One (of many) ideas that stuck with me when I was reading Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart is that life pretty much never stops being in flux and that helps to give up trying to get “settled.”

    Personally I have said too many times, only half joking, that “I fear change.” I do like my routines and that settled feeling can be comforting. Sometimes I do enjoy the excitement and curiosity of change but I used to get exhausted and I want to retreat back to my schedules and plans.

    These days, since I have somewhat internalized the concept that life is always in flux, I feel a lot more peaceful about it. Like I am on a sailboat on blue waters, letting the wind direct me to new and interesting vistas, instead of having to paddle vigorously everywhere I go.

  2. You know what I hate about aging?

    You look back and see how silly you were with all that worry when you were young. Time wasted.

    You know what i love about aging?

    You know better than to let anything upset you too much. You worry less, have fun more, and lose the fear of diving in head first.

    Run through those door with abandon!

  3. My next stretch of years is going to be about taking care of myself and learning to live in a way that will encourage a long, healthy life. Currently, that’s not what I’d call a mastered skill.

  4. Remembering my 20’s makes me appreciate my 40’s that much more. “You’ve come a long way, baby” resonates more than ever and I have to make sure that I don’t take the journey for granted.

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